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Low-carb Paleo diet is best for weight loss but provides other health benefits

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The low-carb Paleo diet is twice as effective for producing weight loss and melting body fat as low-fat diets.

A two-year study conducted by scientists at Cambridge University and Umeå University in Sweden tracked 70 overweight, post-menopausal women who either followed a low-fat diet or a lower-carb (and higher-fat) Paleo diet.

Study participants were measured for weight, cholesterol and blood sugars after six months on their respective diets, and again after two years. The results showed the Paleo dieters lost more than twice as much weight (14 pounds) as the low-fat dieters (5.7 pounds).

What's more, the low-carb, high-fat Paleo dieters lost 4 inches from their waists after six months, compared to just 2 inches for the low-fat dieters. The results were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In previous studies, the Paleo diet has routinely beaten low-fat diets at controlling cholesterol and diabetes.

The results are noteworthy because older women — especially those who are post-menopausal — have a hard time losing weight, especially from their mid-sections, due to slower metabolisms and hormone disruptions.

Research shows the Paleo diet works especially well for women because it reduces the blood sugar spikes and hormone surges that fuel overeating and mood swings, said Nell Stephenson, author of Paleoista: Gain Energy, Get Lean.

The Paleo diet emphasizes high-quality animal proteins, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits, and excludes gluten, sugar, dairy, legumes, starches, alcohol and processed foods.

It's the most popular diet around today, and has a large celebrity following, including NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen, actors Kellan Lutz and Megan Fox, and supermodel Adriana Lima.

Proponents say the Paleo diet promotes rapid weight loss, lowers blood pressure, and prevents cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even Alzheimer's.

“Clinical trials have shown the Paleo Diet is the optimum diet that can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, markers of inflammation, help with weight loss, reduce acne, promote optimum health and athletic performance,” said Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and author of The Paleo Answer.

The weight-loss and many health benefits of the Paleo diet aren't surprising to nutritionist Dr. John Briffa. "As the Paleo diet removes a lot of the foods that tend to cause spikes in insulin levels — particularly sugar and starchy carbohydrates — it aids fat loss," said Briffa.

The latest study bolsters claims by leading weight-loss experts who say low-carb diets like the Paleo and ketogenic diets accelerate weight loss, reverse type 2 diabetes, and prevent dementia and epilepsy.

Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter recently told me the Paleo and ketogenic diets prevent Alzheimer's and ADHD. "Carbs are devastating for the brain," said Perlmutter, the author of Grain Brain. "Even slight elevations in blood sugar have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease."

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